Faith in the midst of our own incompetence…

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Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

The disciples had been with Jesus for a while, perhaps even years, when this situation occurred. They had watched Jesus do amazing things to demonstrate the power of the Kingdom of God, and I have no doubt their faith in Jesus was substantial. But then came the time for them to go out – without Jesus – and do things Jesus had done. As is true for most of us doing new things, it got off to a rough start.

The faith they lacked was not faith in the power of God, or faith in Jesus, but faith that the Kingdom of God could come in their ministry apart from Jesus.

A mentor of mine, Steve Cockram, used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” The idea was not that we would always be lacking in competence and confidence, but that learning something new isn’t always pretty. We make mistakes in the learning process, but if we resist the temptation to quit we will get better. Perhaps even exceeding the abilities of the one who taught us.

Where are you being challenged to do something new, something that would give glory to God? How is the risk of failure getting in your way? Or perhaps you’ve already begun, but it’s not pretty – and you’re tempted to quit. Do you believe God can do a work in you, to grow you from incompetence to competence? I do.

Heavenly Father we hate being incompetent – even if it’s only for a short time. It’s embarrassing. Give us grace to trust you when we don’t trust ourselves. Help us to resist the temptation to abort so that we might see your power working through us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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